How to Make Your Own Tunafish

  • 01 of 05

    Making Canned Tuna

    Close-Up Of Tuna Salad
    Sharon Hiley / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Ever wonder how they make canned tuna? Preserving tuna is an ancient art, perfected by the Italians thousands of years ago. Even today, the finest canned tuna comes from Italy and Spain. Commercial canners often steam their albacore—which is the primary species used in canned tuna—but you will get a far more luxurious result if you slowly poach it in olive oil, a process the French call confit

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  • 02 of 05

    Prepping the Fish and Oil

    First, start with high-quality albacore or yellowfin tuna. You can do this with other kinds of tuna, too, as well as mako shark, halibut, swordfish, or sturgeon. Cut the fish into large chunks about one inch thick, and salt them well.

    Then get your oil ready. Basically, you want to infuse it with flavor and cook it long enough to make the oil stable.

    Add the following to 3 cups of olive oil:

    • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
    • 2 tbsp. kosher salt
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed 
    • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
    • Zest of a lemon,...MORE sliced into strips
    • 1 whole clove

    Heat the oil mixture slowly over medium heat until you begin to see the herbs just start to simmer. The temperature should be about 160 degrees. Hold this temperature for about 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and cover the pot, leaving the oil to cool.

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  • 03 of 05

    Cooking the Fish

    Once the oil has cooled (about 30 minutes), turn the heat back on to medium and heat the oil to 150 degrees. Slip in the fish and arrange the pieces in one layer. The fish must be completely covered in oil.

    Turn off the heat and cover the pot again. Let the fish steep in the oil for another 30 to 45 minutes.

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  • 04 of 05

    Storing the Fish

    After the fish has steeped in the hot oil, use a slotted spoon to remove it to a clean plastic or glass container.

    Let the oil cool to room temperature, then strain it through a piece of cheesecloth and use it to cover the fish. Make sure you do not include any liquid that the fish gave off during cooking. You want only the oil covering the fish (use more clean oil if there is not enough).

    Covered this way, the fish will last in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. If you want it to last longer, you must...MORE pressure-can it in a steam canner. Follow your canner's instructions.

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  • 05 of 05

    Using the Fish

    You can now use your homemade "canned" tuna the way you would if you bought it at the supermarket (but your recipes will taste so much better!). Keep it au naturel and make a salad Nicoise, complete with potatoes, green beans, anchovies, olives, and your favorite vinaigrette. Or see how much more flavorful your tuna salad will be. This is also the perfect time to try a pasta dish with tuna fish.